Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.
Reconciliation Council report B-34, submitted anonymously
I’ve got intel. I think that’s what they call it. I know something that could get me out of all the trouble I’m in.
I’ve been pretty good at avoiding the consequences. All the times I lifted stuff from Commerce, I made it out to look like I stole a lot less, and I never did more than a few months in Confinement. The time I was in a riot and we got all the way up to where they store the bots and broke in and took one apart, I got away before the Commanders showed up and they never even arrested me. The time I punched a guy out in a fight, I told them it was self-defense and they let me go. I heard he died two days later, his brain swelled up too much from the punch, and they probably would have come back for me to arrest me for manslaughter or whatever they call it when you kill someone by accident, but they couldn’t find me. I was gone by then.
It really was an accident. It really was self-defense. We’d been fighting since we were kids, he used to beat me up in school, but it’s not like I was planning revenge or anything. I’m sure I wasn’t.
I probably should hide better. The sub-tunnels are good places to hide, just about everyone down here is hiding from something, and people don’t ask too many questions. But guards have come down here before, even after all the Commanders went away, ’cause they know people are hiding. It’s only a matter of time. I should go somewhere they really won’t find me. I should go Aboveground.
But I think maybe that’s not the safe place to go, anyway. When I got beat up in school by that one kid, I found another one who was littler than me, and I beat him up. I had to do something, right? Then one day, years after we got out of school and I’d almost forgotten about this little son of a bitch, he comes up to me and says he’s getting out, his whole family is going Aboveground and I’m not gonna be able to bully him anymore. I almost punched him in the mouth right then, talking back to me like that. But I wonder if he’s up there right now, hoping I follow him up, planning his revenge on me.
But I could have the last laugh. I could get his smug skinny ass in trouble and get myself out of trouble at the same time. I could tell Government about them, his whole family, how they snuck out a hatch somewhere and got away. I could stop hiding and I wouldn’t have to write letters like this all anonymous.
I don’t know why I haven’t. Not really. Maybe. I hate how they got away and I hate how I’m down here running around in the sub-tunnels like a rat and I hate how that smug little kid called me a bully and I hate having to admit that maybe I am one. I hate having to admit that I’m glad they got away, kind of. They got away and they don’t have to be a bunch of rats anymore. I don’t even hate them enough to make them come back down here.
©2016 Michelle M. Welch